Iraq, location of the PKK cave where Turks were killed

Erdoğan accuses US after the killing of 13 Turkish citizens by the PKK

The US condemned the execution of 13 Turkish nationals kidnapped by the terrorist group PKK, to which Washington provided weapons, Erdoğan says.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan had harsh words for the US on Monday, whose government he accused of supporting the terrorist group PKK while at the same time Washington offered its condolences to Turkey after the PKK assassinated 13 Turkish citizens whom it maintained for several years kidnapped in northern Iraq.

In a speech to members of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the eastern Black Sea province of Rize, Erdoğan insisted that the United States has always supported the PKK and its Syrian branch, the YPG, handing them tons of weapons and supplies. “The US statement on the execution of Turkish citizens by the PKK in northern Iraq is ridiculous. They claim they don’t support the PKK, but they certainly do,” he said.

“If you want to continue our global and NATO alliance, then you must stop siding with the terrorists. This is not the first massacre of civilians by the PKK. You say that you do not support the terrorists, when in fact you are at their side and behind them,” Erdoğan insisted. “The terrorist organisation (PKK) that is at our doors, on our borders, is killing innocents,” he added.

The Turkish president’s words made reference to an official statement issued by the US State Department, in which it is said that the United States “deplores the death of Turkish citizens” and that “it is on the side of its ally in the NATO, Turkey”. Offering its condolences to the families of the victims, the text states that “if the death of Turkish civilians at the hands of the PKK, an organisation considered terrorist, is confirmed, we condemn this action.”

Spain “regrets” the murder of Turkish citizens in Iraq

Several countries also issued messages of condemnation and solidarity with Turkey in the last hours. The Spanish embassy in Ankara published today a message in Spanish and Turkish on Twitter saying: “We deeply regret the death of thirteen Turkish citizens in a terrorist incident in northern Iraq, and we want to send our deepest condolences to their families, and our solidarity with the Turkish government and people”.

However, also through Twitter, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu criticised in a series of messages that many countries have kept silent in the face of this tragedy. “The Western world’s double standards on terrorism, and its selective approach distinguishing between ‘good terrorist’ and ‘bad terrorist’ continue,” wrote Çavuşoğlu. “Countries that claim to fight terrorism, either keep silent about the PKK massacre or try to downplay it with ifs and buts,” he added.

6 years kidnapped, and then executed

The events that have sparked the controversy refer to the discovery in a cave in the mountains of the Iraqi region of Gara, on the border with Turkey and where the Turkish army carries out an operation against the PKK, of the lifeless bodies of 13 Turkish citizens who had been kidnapped, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar announced on Sunday.

According to information released in the Turkish media, they had been kidnapped years ago by the PKK while travelling through southeastern Turkey; from there they were taken to the mountains of northern Iraq where the terrorist group has its camps. The 13 Turkish citizens, some of them policemen and gendarmes and the rest civilians, were transferred to different locations in northern Iraq for 6 years to avoid being located.

Their final destination were facilities dug out of a cave in a mountain in the Gara region, located by the Turkish army a few days ago during its operations in the area. The cave functioned as a prison carved into the rock and consisted of several rooms and corridors guarded by armed members of the PKK. After being discovered, the dead bodies were transferred to the Turkish province of Malatya on Sunday for an autopsy.

The Governor of Malatya, Aydın Baruş, has announced that the identities of 10 of the 13 Turkish citizens killed by the PKK have been determined after a forensic examination, confirming that there are some policemen and gendarmes among them and that the rest (at least half of them) are civilians. All of them were executed: “12 of our citizens were shot in the head by PKK terrorists, and another was shot in the shoulder,” said Baruş.